Refugees in South Africa | SIM Canada Out & About | SIM Canada

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Refugees in South Africa
Shortly before returning to Canada on home assignment I had a remarkable experience in Durban.  Like other large cities in South Africa, Durban has become a haven to tens of thousands of refugees from across the whole continent. Most of these displaced people are very poor and suffer the brunt of discrimination and mistreatment. 

Early in December Asani and I joined a small a team of three Christians who've been going every week to meet with a dozen destitute Tanzanian refugees, most of whom have been in Durban less than two years. 

We shared simple food stuffs with them as we do every week. While discussing how their week had gone, we learned that one of the group members had managed to get a casual job. We thanked the Lord and then we called the group together to hear the Bible story. We read the story a couple verses at a time, first in Swahili, then in English. At a couple points we asked questions which stimulated lively conversation. 

Pastor Asani, a new member of our team, brought the Swahili Bible and was able to translate key aspects of our discussion in Swahili. To say that Pastor Asani's input was vital would be an understatement. After 45 minutes of Bible reading, Asani was asked to close in prayer.  But he did something that took us by surprise. He suggested we all hold hands, while standing in a circle. Then he led us in singing a Swahili gospel chorus. It seemed to me as if these men picked up the flow of the song quite effortlessly. As the song ended several of the Tanzanians exclaimed, "Hallelujah!” Asani prayed in Swahili and again, spontaneous outbursts of "Amen” punctuated the air.
Of course, this exciting story is only one small chapter.  There is a lot more watering of seeds to be done. We are praying and planning to harness financial support for Asani. His skills are vital for the continuation of our work. Asani and I met another group of 10 impoverished Tanzanian refugees. We have briefly talked with these young men on four occasions and sensed the beginning of a real bond of friendship.

We have no other helpers to work with Asani in reaching out to this new group. We have presented this need to several pastors in the heart of Durban. One pastor from a nearby suburb is lending a helping hand. Furthermore, we're praying that the Lord will provide one or two short term workers to work with Asani and to enable us to capitalize on this amazing open door. 

If you are interested, please contact SIM Canada to learn more.  

Be sure to check out the Opportunity of the Week on for more details. 


By David Foster
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